'The Walking Dead' 100th episode special: 15 most heartrending deaths


Credit: Rodney Ho

Posted by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on Thursday, October 19, 2017 

Death is the never-ending Gobstopper of "The Walking Dead." Heck, it's in the dang title.

The producers of "The Walking Dead" at Raleigh Studios in Senoia even have an auditorium where photos of te notable characters who have perished line the walls like a morbid Hall of Fame.

From WEDNESDAY: "The Walking Dead": my, how they've aged!

In celebration of the 100th episode of the show returning for its season eight debut Sunday, I've posted what I think are the 15 most heart-rending deaths in its history. The characters may not have been all that great (Merle) or crucial in the grand scheme of things (Lizzie) but these are deaths that packed an emotional punch under the particular circumstances.

15- Bob Stookey - He wasn't around very long but he had what one would call an extended departure. He got to say goodbye to his squeeze Sasha and leave in peace with a smile, even without a leg that the Wolves had snacked on. It was one of the more pleasant departures in the show's history.

14- Sasha Williams - Speaking of Sasha, her death was telegraphed so far ahead of time, it wasn't a super surprise given that she had lost both Bob, Tyreese and now Abraham. She basically tried to assassinate Negan in a suicidal mission. Once in a cell, Negan gave her an out and saved her from a rapist. She could have jumped ship like Eugene but in the end, chose not to. Instead, she used some mental jujitsu to convince Eugene to give her his home-made suicide pill. One their way over to see Rick, she knew Negan was going to her against Rick so she decided to swallow the pill while sitting in a coffin. When Negan popped her open, surprise! Walker Sasha tried to kill him but got Roy instead. She did provide a distraction which gave Rick a chance to turn on the Scavengers. So while her death was useful, it didn't pack that strong of an emotional punch.

13- Benjamin - We hardly knew Benjamin but he was King Ezekiel's god son in a sense and even Morgan had taken him under his wing. He was a sweet kid who the Saviors' Jared chose to shoot because of a single missing melon. The death emphasized how nasty the Saviors were and also steeled Morgan against them as well as go back on his ideals of not killing humans. (Once Morgan found out Richard had indirectly caused Benjamin's death, he brutally killed Richard in front of the Saviors.)

12- Abraham - His death was practically preordained once Negan showed up. Of course he was going to whack the most intimidating-looking person in the group. And Abraham's defiant pose and signature final words ("Suck my nuts!") reduced the shock of it all. And naturally, his death was overshadowed by that of Glenn a few minutes later. The good thing is the show gave Abraham plenty of airtime to develop his character leading up to his departure. Plus, he got to sleep with both Rosita and Sasha.

11-  Tyreese Williams - This soulful, caring man was haunted by all the death around him, including his girlfriend at the prison. He was rewarded a well-earned extended death scene. His zombie bite in the arm was a bit of a shock because it happened without warning. Rick and company tried to save him but it was too late. He started hallucinating various past characters and even after having his arm cut off, he had lost too much blood. He passed, a major loss for the group and the show, but with some sense of accomplishment.

10-  Merle: He started out with very little redeeming value, antagonizing T-Dog so much, he was chained on the roof of an Atlanta building to perish. But he survived, cutting off his hand, and joined the Governor. But when he found out his brother Daryl was on the opposing side, his loyalties waffled. In the end, he tried and failed to kill the Governor and was later found by Daryl as a walker. A tearful Daryl had to kill his own brother - or what was left of him - and he did it with such aggression with a seeming intention to blot the image of Zombie Merle out of his own brain.

9-  Andrea: Poor Andrea, left to die by the Governor, was bitten in the neck by Zombie Milton. She was just too slow to get to the pliers and remove her handcuffs. But she was given a chance to say goodbye to her buddy Michonne before she asked to kill herself. The editors chose not to show the actual death, an unusually tasteful move for "The Walking Dead." (See Glenn and Hershel later on.)

8-  Lori: Pregnant Lori was not the most likable character so her death didn't exactly kill the fans. Without modern medicine and the need for an emergency C-section to save her baby, she sacrificed herself. Yes, Maggie cut her open and she bled out as Judith was removed from her womb alive. Before that, Lori got to say how much she loved Carl and even through in some advice. After she died and before she turned, Carl had to shoot her. (The adults were out clearing walkers.) The show chose to have her shot off camera, just like Andrea.

7-  Dale: Before Hershel, Dale was the moral compass of the group. He was distracted by staring at a disemboweled cow when a walker surprised him. Daryl couldn't make it in time before the walker bit Dale in the gut. Hershel arrived, surveyed the damage and said there was no way to save him. Dale was clearly in massive pain so Daryl had to shoot him. It was a relatively early death in the show and rather gruesome. When Carl found out it was the walker he had taunted earlier, he felt massively guilty.

6- Shane: All of Shane's arrogant delusions come to a fore with his ill-fated plan to kill Rick in that foggy field. "I'm a better father than you Rick. I'm better for Lori, man. Cos I'm a better man than you... You just come back here and destroy everything!" Shane hesitated too long as Rick tried to talk him out of it. He handed him over his gun to Shane, then gut him in cold blood. "You've done this to us! Not me!" Rick yelped as Shane died. Shane wasted no time turning and Carl had no choice but shoot him.

5- Sophia: While Rick's crew was emptying out Hershel's barn of walkers, the final walker is the girl they spent much of season two hunting for: Carol's daughter Sophia. Carol's emotional breakdown and everyone's shocked response preceded Rick shooting her dead as the camera panned over the entire sordid scene.

4 - Beth: What made this such a shocker is how it seemed like Beth had been saved, that all was fine. The two sides were trading hostages but hospital leader Dawn insisted on keeping Noah, Beth's friend. Beth, who had kept scissors in her cast, decided to stab Dawn for taking back Noah. In reaction, Dawn accidentally shot and killed Beth. It was so sudden and so unexpected. Despite the fact she didn't mean to do it, Daryl shot Dawn dead, too, and it took another cop to make everyone stand down. Everyone had just reunited and this created an unexpected period of trauma as they exited the hospital, leaving Atlanta for the final time.

3- Lizzie: Poor deluded Lizzie thought there wasn't much difference between humans and zombies. As a crazy experiment, she killed her sister Mika and was about to do the same to Judith. Carol set Lizzie aside. "Are you mad at me?" Lizzie asked Carol. "I love you Lizzie," Carol said. "And everything works out the way it's supposed to." "Please don't be mad at me, I'm sorry," Lizzie added. "Just look at the flowers, Lizzie," Carol said and tearfully shot her. Watching it again, I still get tearful. It's hard to kill kids on a TV show, even in the zombie apocalypse.

2- Hershel: This was one of the ugliest deaths in the show's history and one of the most beloved characters on the show. The cameras showed the Governor whacking Hershel's neck with his sword and Hershel falling over. This was followed by slow-mo reactions of several of the cast including his two daughters. This is immediately followed by a massive gunfight and eventually, the Governor's deserved death. Losing Hershel left a gaping  void in the group that has, in many ways, yet to be filled.

1- Glenn: Would you expect anyone else at No. 1? He was an OG, the man who saved Rick in the very first episode. The former pizza deliver boy became an invaluable part of the team and a loving husband to Maggie before this scene. Negan seemed ready to leave it at one dead man in Abraham but Daryl's attempt to rebel caused Negan to whack Glenn. And while the show was tasteful regarding some past deaths (as noted, Lori and Andrea), this scene caused many fans to wretch as Glenn, eyeball popped out of his skull, uttered, "Maggie, I'll find you" before Negan turned his skull into mush. Honestly, it's hard to watch this one more than once.

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